Week 4: Code/Space

According to “On the one hand, “public” can simply mean “outside the home” or “outside private space.”” (Berry et al., 2013, p.3). he was referring to Hannay (2005), the first definition of “Public” is the space out of the home or private space. Therefore, it is not only the squares or roads in the city, but also the space owned by the government but used by citizens, like bus stations or department stores. However, “public” is also defined as a political construction incorporated with liberty, which means all individual citizens can gather to have discussion about common issues. Hence, activities in public are often considered to be held face-to-face, like meetings or demonstrations.

Berry also says: Commuting, a task done by the laborer, has been both alleviated and interfered by modern technologies. Technological devices such as Ipads or mobile phones are considered “immaterial labor”, but “their manufacture belongs to a super-Fordist mode of production” (Berry et al., 2013, p.11). Imaterial labor is the labour that creates cultural value and in this term, there is a shortage of boundaries in laborers’ lives, as workers will eventually work on their own or spend a large amount of time thinking. This thinking time is hard to be measured and hence not paid for.

Code/space is the term pointing out the strong connection between software and spatiality. The former is produced to create the latter. This means “a dyadic relationship exists between code and spatiality” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2001, p.16). The illustration for code/space is an airport check-in counter, whose spatiality relies on software. If the code is broken down, the counter will no longer be a check-in area and become disorganised. Therefore, the space depends on the code. The same goes for supermarkets’ check-out areas, where computer systems play a vital role to decide the function of the space. Unless the code used for the system works properly, the counter cannot serve as a check-out space for customers. This means “the sociospatial production of the supermarket is functionally dependent on code” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2001, p.17).




Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R.O., 2013. Public space, media space, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., (2011). Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

One thought on “Week 4: Code/Space

  1. Hi Rasha – thank you for an interesting post. As you have noted, code is used to produce space, and the space does not function when the code fails. I like your examples of airport check-in counters and supermarket check-out areas because I have seen how software has transformed the functionality and usage of these areas. The last time I travelled through an airport the online check-in, automated boarding pass and passport checks, enabled by software, meant that I did not interact with a human until I boarded the aeroplane. Similarly, in a supermarket I use a hand-held scanner as I select products from the shelf to put straight into my shopping bag, and the check-out is automated with no human input.

    There is another aspect to these coded spaces. The airports and supermarkets are not just replacing human labour and increasing efficiency. As Maria Sourbati says in her Week 4 lecture (part 1), data is being gathered through these coded interfaces to be used for narration. She refers to Geoff Manaugh’s (2018) article ‘The City That Remembers Everything’, where he describes how a multitude of code-driven data gathering points in a smart city creates a “super-catalog of the mundane”. He explains how this is used: “Its capacity for total documentation implied that every event in the city could not just be reconstructed but fully and completely explained.”

    Do you think this narration can reveal greater insight and understanding for a more cohesive and better served society?

    Manaugh, G. (2018). ‘The City That Remembers Everything’, The Atlantic. 23 February. Available from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/02/james-joyce-as-police-operation/553817/

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